Croatia delivered the first upset of the 2016 Rio Olympics basketball by nipping Spain, 72-70 in the group stages. Brooklyn Nets forward Bojan Bogdanovic led the way for the Croatians, which needed an excellent defensive play in regulation to preserve the win over the Pau Gasol-led Spaniards.
This was a disappointing start for Spain, who were considered as among the teams that could give the powerhouse Team USA a run for their money in Brazil. Spain will face the host nation Brazil on Tuesday and Gasol’s squad will be challenged to avoid their second consecutive loss in this tournament.
For Croatia, this was a crucial win before another marquee match-up against Argentina and hosts Brazil in their next two games. Bogdanovic top-scored for Croatia with 23 points on 8 of 15 field goal shooting.
Spain appeared to be in control for most of the game, with a 38-32 lead at halftime and a 54-47 lead after the third quarter. However, the Croatians went on a 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter and got the lead, 57-56 with 6:25 to go in the game.
Spain had the lead, 67-64 with three minutes to go in the game but faltered in the end game as the Croatians found the mark at crunch time.
Croatia also turned to their defense in the final seconds with Dario Saric blocking Gasol’s shot, which could have sent the game to overtime.
Watch Saric, who will play for the Philadelphia 76ers next season, block the Spanish big man to preserve the win for the Croatians.
Video Courtesy: YouTube/NBA PLAYERS&GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Saric had a good all-around game with 5 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Two other Croatians finished in double figures with Darko Planinic finishing with 11 points and 6 rebounds and Krunoslav Simon ending up with 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.